15 Jan Jason’s 2017 Mystery Tour – Days 5-7

Rapido UK Blog / January 13-15, 2017

Jason’s 2017 Mystery Tour

By Jason Shron

Follow Jason’s Magical Mystery Tour from start to finish:

1 – Roll up for the Mystery Tour!
2 – Reading to New Street to the wilds of Cambridgeshire
3 – In Stockton and Darlington country
4 – Yorkshire to Birmingham via the Wythall Transport Museum
5 – Driving and being run over by buses in Manchester
6 – Crewe-Sheffield-London-Leamington Spa… in one day!
7 – Adventures in Birmingham (via Peterborough)


I spent Friday night and Saturday with old friends in Birmingham. It’s been 13 years since I saw most of these people. The ones who haven’t died look great…

Saturday night I headed to Crewe where I treated myself to a couple of nights at Crewe Hall.

Crewe Hall was built in the 1600s as the home of the Crewe family. It’s been turned into a very posh hotel and spa, and I’m telling you I can seriously get used to staying in places like this. This is the lounge!

As a budding bus crank, it is very helpful that I am good friends with Peter Crichton. Peter is the owner of Omnibus Passenger Transport Solutions, providing timetable software to 70% of the UK’s bus companies. He’s now expanding overseas. Pete owns Manchester Corporation Leyland Titan PD2 (Metro Cammell body) #3706, as well as London Routemaster RM1152.

Pete picked Terry Wynne and me up at Preston station and took us to visit his buses. And my weren’t they lovely!

Terry is very active with the Crewe Heritage Centre and the Calder Northern group. Rapido’s UK office is Terry’s kitchen table!

Last time Pete let me drive RM1152 I had never driven a bus before. What a change in 14 months! Now I have a full PSV licence and I own my own bus! RM1152 is much, much easier to drive than my 10-ton, 40-foot-long, 102″-wide, 50-year-old New Look with manual steering. At least I didn’t have to do a “run up” in 1152 to get over the snow, like I had to do in my bus last month…

I drove RM1152 to the Manchester Museum of Transport. All I can say is WOW! This is as fine a collection of buses (and one tram!) as you’ll ever see. First things first, and I brought out the pre-production sample of our North American New Look bus.

Here Pete, Paul Nicholson, Paul Wreghitt, Adam Stephenson and Peter Bradbury go “oooh” and “aaah” while looking at the bus model. I’m proud to say it really is head and shoulders above every 1:87 and 1:76 bus model hitherto produced anywhere on the planet. Have a look at these close-ups of our bus model:

Once we got that out of the way, I was fortunate to get an insider’s tour from Adam, Paul Wreghitt and Paul Wotton. (There were rather a lot of Pauls at the museum.)

Pete, Terry and I were larking about at bus #1000, the first Mancunian…

But then someone had the bright idea of letting Terry drive. I may have my PSV licence, but Terry worked for 40 years in the railway. He’s definitely not a bus driver, and I learned this the hard way.

Look down, Terry! No, not to the left! I’m down in front!

Ooooh, my achin’ noggin.

The guys at the museum were very generous. We got a ride in Leyland-engined Routemaster RM1414, and we got to go inside many of the vehicles.

Doing research for the Realtrack Class 142 DMU, I determined that Leyland National bus seats are terrible:

They even let me drive one of the buses in the museum:

After a really fun three hours or so with the chaps at the museum, we headed back to 3706 and RM1152, where I found some broken glass on the rear platform. On closer examination, we discovered that someone had smashed the glass (with its original London Transport transfer) and stolen the fire extinguisher! What a bl**dy b*****d!

There are some people (and they are a tiny minority) who have a total disregard for private and public property. They are raised completely without values, likely by people who are similarly valueless. On the one hand, I want anyone who commits vandalism like this to get public lashes. On the other hand, I believe in education and support for people who are most likely to commit crimes to prevent them from doing it. The trouble is, how do you teach respect to people who were raised without any love or support? Until someone solves that big question, we have to deal with vandalism like this and I say we go with the lashes.

Terry and Adam clean up the mess.

I have friends in Manchester, Rob and Jade Block, that I only get to see once every few years. I texted Rob to let him know I was coming, but I didn’t say how I was getting there.

And sure enough we pulled up in a residential street in Prestwich in a pair of double decker buses!

Rob hadn’t got back yet. I knocked on the door. Jade answered.

“Hi Jason! Come in!”

“No – I think you want to come out.”

“Don’t be silly! Come on in!”

“I really think you want to come outside.”

Turns out it was their youngest son’s birthday party, so we gave everyone a trip in RM1152. The guests thought it was all arranged, not realizing that Rob and Jade just have a friend from Canada who is a nutter.

Absurdly, with two bus industry people on board, the train nerd was the only one with a valid PSV licence! So I had to drive! That was a blast.

Thank you to my fellow train fans who couldn’t give a jot about buses for sticking with me this long. The next instalment is all about trains. I promise!

NEXT: Crewe-Sheffield-London-Leamington Spa… in one day!

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